6 Latina Self-Made Entrepreneurs Seizing Technology and Building Winning Businesses

 

This article was originally posted on Hispanic PR Blog

6 Latina Self-Made Entrepreneurs Seizing Technology and Building Winning Businesses

 

Seasoned or budding entrepreneurs, all of these women have a few things in common. They’re Latina, self-made, have untraditional business models that have been built from the ground up, and are leveraging the tech world in smart and innovative ways.  They are without a doubt changing the face and perception of Latinas in business.  Here they are in alphabetical order:

 

  1.    Jessica Alba, The Honest Company – Making “Toxic-free” Trendy

Jessica Alba may be a well-known Hollywood starlet, but she has also proven to be a phenomenal business woman – growing her non-toxic, e-commerce business into a multi-million dollar machine with a current valuation of $1 billion.  The Honest Company’s product lines, which range from baby care products to household cleaners, are now also making their way onto retail shelves across America, including retail giant Target.

 

  1. Marie Forleo, B-School – Her Life As A Brand

Despite landing enviable positions on Wall Street and in magazine publishing, Marie Forleo could not shake off the feeling that there was something better out there for her. Naturally a people-person, she decided to take an online course and pursue a less familiar career path as a life-coach – a title that she admits she initially found to be “cheesy.” After deciding to develop a newsletter on the topic, Forleo leveraged her personal network to establish a loyal following.  Today, Forleo is a marketing and lifestyle expert, bestselling author, and Oprah certified business woman (yes, Oprah interviewed her).  She is teaching individuals how to succeed in business and life through B-School, an online business school for modern entrepreneurs developed by Forleo.

 

  1. Laura I. Gómez, Atipica – Tech Diversity Guru

In spite of having arrived to the United States at the age of 10 as an undocumented immigrant, Laura I. Gómez has proven to be a force to be reckoned with.  Gomez went on to graduate from a top college, receive U.S. residency, and work with leading tech companies including Twitter, YouTube, and Jawbone. She is now taking her tech know-how to the next level with her recently launched startup.  Her company, Atipica, helps the tech industry address its diversity challenge by working directly with hiring managers to improve companies’ recruitment and retention efforts.

 

  1. Maria Theresa Kumar, Voto Latino – Transforming The Latino Millennial Electorate

Since its founding in 2004, Voto Latino (VL) has registered nearly a quarter-million voters. Founder and CEO, Maria Theresa Kumar, started VL out of her apartment in New York.  Her vision: develop a platform that will empower Latino millennials through civic engagement. Today, VL is stronger than ever and recently launched what many are calling its most innovative program yet – VL’s Innovators Challenge. The program helps Latino millennials translate their “tech savvy” into technology work and is helping pave the way towards greater Latino entry into the Science, Engineering, Technology, and Math (STEM) fields.

 

  1. Michelle Rosado, Raging Babe – Engineer Turned Boxing Promoter

Michele Rosado may have started off as an engineer but her passion for the sport of boxing has led her down a road less traveled, perhaps untouched by most Latinas. Her company, Raging Babe – originally founded in Arizona – is taking the boxing community by storm and has significantly contributed to the resurgence of the sport in Arizona.  Today, Rosado is taking her business to an entirely new level with a Raging Babe online store, radio show, and a social media following that is helping to promote her brand to more than just your typical boxing aficionado. Rosado is blazing new trails for women and smartly leveraging technology to help build her boxing empire, which today extends well beyond Arizona.

 

  1. Lynette Spano, SCI Consulting – Triple Threat

After working as a receptionist for a software company, Spano’s interest in technology quietly developed into one of the largest woman-owned federal contracting companies in the country – SCI Consulting.  But serving as CEO of a multi-million dollar IT firm is not all Spano does, she is also a Latin recording artist – a path she pursued after suffering from a life threatening brain aneurysm. In 2010, Spano founded Stars, Stripes, and Hearts, a nonprofit initiative that raises funds for Hispanic service members suffering from mental health conditions.

 

Laura Berrocal is a Contributing Writer on tech and diversity issues at Silicon Valley Latino.  Follow her on Twitter at @1LauraB

 

LSA 2nd Annual Global Innovator Summit 2014 San Francisco

Laura I. Gomez interview on USA Today!

 

 

Latinas in STEM “STEM 101 Conference”

 

Latinas in STEM 101 Conference

On Saturday November 8th I had the great pleasure of experiencing Latinas in STEM’s “STEM 101 Conference” hosted by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School. I was fortunate to attend the event as the conferences media sponsor as well as a parent because both of my children attended as participants.

[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10486569_866311760068526_7976477283465317865_o.jpg]170Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_1048860_866312440068458_2358314179659604449_o.jpg]150Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_1398418_866313306735038_5956646892224516718_o.jpg]130Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_1400208_866312843401751_602364461046355045_o.jpg]150Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_1404472_866312473401788_4350168959574482701_o.jpg]160Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_1490597_866312990068403_9105626909349841994_o.jpg]140Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_1490598_866312093401826_7023295857307534433_o.jpg]150Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_1492130_866313040068398_3604471861109867396_o.jpg]150Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_1492150_866313136735055_9132142960894315873_o.jpg]110Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_1496018_866312930068409_3921189442927841032_o.jpg]370Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_1498740_866313173401718_8084270398298965183_o.jpg]130Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_1501199_866313253401710_7203608621652567413_o.jpg]100Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_1504186_866312586735110_9214910080328350348_o.jpg]90Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_1511569_866313396735029_7749197484347120834_o.jpg]100Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_1522734_866312593401776_2989211913994051726_o.jpg]110Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_1614461_866313193401716_4479294798175587917_o.jpg]110Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_1614461_866313426735026_8277438401740805404_o.jpg]120Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_1655635_866312873401748_6806392125612285202_o.jpg]190Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_1780084_866312490068453_4201520896115164709_o.jpg]130Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_1780097_866312303401805_8397275266727913889_o.jpg]130Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_1780978_866313016735067_6346500574876801791_o.jpg]140Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_1782277_866312116735157_1152057353424809787_o.jpg]130Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10003691_866312226735146_8767512092231873879_o.jpg]120Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10269219_866312410068461_6805978372405099803_o.jpg]120Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10371304_866312200068482_2552589158854844434_o.jpg]130Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10387147_866312980068404_2011231204390408340_o.jpg]100Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10387157_866313223401713_3892928473421050193_o.jpg]90Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10431189_866312800068422_1533986758969102223_o.jpg]100Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10507030_866313120068390_5205518187578532091_o.jpg]110Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10511585_866312640068438_3835990415842059763_o.jpg]110Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10515187_866312680068434_5451783783664652628_o.jpg]80Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10517207_866312516735117_8710361320956052497_o.jpg]80Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10548165_866313090068393_5317581927454960546_o.jpg]80Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10634076_866312153401820_2730678385764867191_o.jpg]90Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10649021_866313060068396_2557282485263124219_o.jpg]90Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10655171_866312910068411_8065246449366311178_o.jpg]120Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10655377_866312313401804_1059307659653945813_o.jpg]130Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10680113_866312283401807_6224260432375879406_o.jpg]100Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10700510_866312246735144_1640153844804990271_o.jpg]100Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10704315_866312353401800_4516012824622408630_o.jpg]120Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10704315_866312393401796_322150745879537331_o.jpg]120Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10712539_866312096735159_8669856371254562059_o.jpg]130Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10714374_866313270068375_8420558267218663331_o.jpg]140Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10733864_866313110068391_3672395970414226835_o.jpg]150Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10749985_866312613401774_4381106117693166254_o.jpg]150Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10750226_866312176735151_2963678579129650292_o.jpg]110Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10750226_866312550068447_5542185253196343010_o.jpg]90Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10750232_866312130068489_4837121602874620494_o.jpg]90Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10750498_866312766735092_5171360408692766434_o.jpg]80Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"
[img src=http://svlatino.com/wp-content/flagallery/latinas-in-stem-101-conference/thumbs/thumbs_10818401_866313323401703_4653056556191651448_o.jpg]80Latinas in STEM's "STEM 101 Conference"

 

On Saturday November 8th we had the great pleasure of experiencing Latinas in STEM’s “STEM 101 Conference” hosted by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School. I was fortunate to attend the event as the conferences media sponsor as well as a parent because both of my children attended as participants. The event began with registration at 8AM and a light breakfast. This was followed by a heartfelt welcome and a very touching and inspiring keynote speech delivered by Patricia Millan, Sr. Research Statistician at Nielson. She shared her real life experiences as a high school student in a Latino household facing the challenges of dealing with familia expectations, exploring her prospective opportunities and simply trying for figure out how to best navigate the journey from high school to college. She was open and honest about how she and her family managed a difficult process and how they came out fine at the end of it. Her anecdotes seemed to genuinely resonate with the audience that was comprised of 250 students, parents, STEM professionals, sponsors and volunteers.

 

Once the keynote speech concluded the real fun began as some of the students went into either a hands-on STEM learning workshop or presentation on careers in STEM while the parents participated in a different workshop where they addressed what to expect as their students apply to colleges and how to best support them. The absolute highlight for the students was when they were instructed on how to build a Lego robot programmed to do a variety of actions. My daughter certainly enjoyed that one the best and is looking forward to the next Latinas in STEM conference.

 

Diana Albarran Chicas, co-founder of Latinas in STEM and Near Field Range (NFR) Test Section Manager at Space Systems Loral, spent sometime with us in order to conduct a brief interview. When we asked Diana how she felt the conference was going, her reply was “it’s going very well. For us it’s about impact, it’s about connecting with these young girls and awakening the spark from within them and an interest in STEM while educating the parents on the journey and all the steps in between so that they are best equipped to support their girls as they apply to colleges and pursue their higher education.” We also asked her how they were able to make all of this happen and her response was “It truly takes a village to execute at this level. Our village is composed of numerous committed volunteers and sponsors like Google, Cisco, Symantec, IBM, Chevron, Nielsen, NASA and collaborators like LISTAS, Winton Middle School, Latinovating by Grace Tiscareno-Sato and of course the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Middle school.”

 

The conference concluded with special acknowledgements to sponsors, partners and volunteers as well as door prize drawing announcements. Silicon Valley Latino was honored to have participated as a media sponsor and looks forward to participating in the next one. Adelante Latinas in STEM!

 

For more information on Latinas in STEM visit http://www.latinasinstem.com/

Pilar Manchon – SVL List Honoree

 

Pilar is an innovator in tech and a 20 year veteran in Speech & Natural Language Processing.  She has built and led high-performance teams with top talent, developed leading-edge conversational agent technology and tools, successfully deployed disruptive solutions internationally and raised millions in venture capital.  Additionally, she has been presented with multiple international awards for her work in this space and driven her company through a successful exit.

She is passionate about disruptive innovation, overcoming great business & technological challenges, and inspiring others to grow, lead and prevail.  Her strong technical background together with an extensive business-intensive track-record and result-oriented focus have made her a strategic thinker, a big dreamer and a relentless go getter. She is a big fan of lean and product-oriented development, inter-team coordination and value-driven organizations.

Her technical expertise ranges from Speech Recognition & Synthesis, to Natural Language Understanding, Multimodal Dialogue Management, Machine Translation and Language Technologies in general. She is particularly interested in Intelligent Conversational Agents, Cognitive Science, Human-Computer Interaction, User Experience and Artificial Intelligence.

She envisions a world where smart and multimodal conversational interfaces will improve the lives of billions of people, and is proud to be one of the architects that will make this vision come true.

 

technovation Hack Day!

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 11.23.21 AM

Half Moon Bay Latina loves wearing Art thus Wear That Art is born!

 

We begin our series of highlighting and promoting Latina & Latino Entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley and those who want to come to Silicon Valley  so that you can learn via their stories how they are making Silicon Valley click with each of their contributions.

We start with Wear That Art, a Half Moon Bay company, that has built a  niche market in the Fine Art and t-shirt industry.  We were able to get in touch with Maria Jose Mendillo founder of this rapidly growing online business and conducted this question and answer session.

 

What inspired you to come up with this idea? What problem are you trying to solve?

While traveling through Europe we found many places where new young artists were showing their creations outside traditional Museums.  We thought that the generations to come, the WEB Generations, those that were born and are growing up with the WEB, want to “interact” with the art.

Many think that this means we need to create Art that is interactive.  We believe that just by wearing ART, in limited Editions, from known and new artists is a way to express oneself in terms of ART and a way to interact with ART.

Amsterdam was our AHA! Moment… we sat and started drawing how it could work, what we will do, what could be the points that will create something that will become a movement in the future?  Wear That ART was born!!

1LOGONEW

What’s your business model and how do you plan to monetize?

The model is very simple.  We had to build a way to attain original ART and then be able to print this ART in limited numbered editions to give it the exclusivity.

Since we are an e-commerce site, we monetize from the get go.  We don’t use our inventory to promote ourselves (no free product ever comes from us). 

We do marketing by promoting our ARTISTS, then associate them to our brand as the “cool place” to find not just garments (T-shirts, Tote bags, Aprons, etc.) but also to appreciate very cool creations.  From the beginning we had very large amounts of traffic to our site that we didn’t understand. We did not understand why they were not buying so we did some research and found that they were actually using our site as a gallery to visit and appreciate ART.

 Second, we decided that our products will all be 100% cotton and all manufactured in the US, where we can control the quality.

Lastly, we have a sourcing system that prints on demand only so that our cost of raw materials is kept very low.  This allows us to not only keep very little inventory but also allows us to make sure that each product is totally unique (even if it is a numbered copy of the original).  We have a lot of pure Digital Artists that do not create in any physical medium.

Artists take a good piece of the profit, but we are able to operate scale at a very good margin, from one at a time, we are doing pretty good.  

Our difference is that we have currently more than 3,000 unique creations and we can deliver any amount of them (limited to no more than 200 copies of each) in less than 48 hours.  When a customer buys one of our ARTs on a garment, they know exactly what number is it and that there will be no more than 200 of each.  That makes each piece totally unique.

 

How are you different from your competition?

There is not really any other company that reproduces numbered limited editions of ART in garments.  Typically the companies that specialize in printing limited ART editions do that in paper or Canvas…

Creations in Garment are limited to T-Shirts or some other pieces and companies want to do this in large scale on very limited number of original creations ( it is a matter of keeping your inventory at the right level, economic success is in managing the finished product, since we don’t have that issue we can do much better).

That said, of course traditional companies like Society6, ART.com, are more likely to see us as competition.

 

Where do you see your business in one (to three) year(s)?

We are growing at a very fast pace which requires us to keep bringing new artists to the scene.  We are attracting many known Artists like Monica Warhol, along with up and coming new young artists.

We keep scouting for new valued artists around the world.  As of today we have artists from more than 25 countries.

Sales has been the challenge, in trying to explain to the Artists why this is different and that we respect them and their work. We look to share a good piece of the sales with them and at the same time promote them in many ways.  We do marketing and exposure for them to build their presence.  We do not bring their art in a cheap way to market. We follow a formula meant to enhance the value of their work.

Currently our site represents the majority of our sales.  We just launched another outlet at Amazon.com and the response has been much better than expected (even after the challenge of working with them as a small entrepreneur has proven to be so tough that it crossed our minds to give up but we didn’t and we finally mastered their formula now!!)

Part of our mid term plans include the launch of our expositions in key cities around the world.  We have been in conversations with great people that have different ways of thinking about how ART has to be exposed to the public, how to make it interactive, etc. and we are excited to be considered one of those points to that stage.

 

Who are your socios (business partners, co-founders, etc)?

We are a private corporation, self funded.

 

Have you received any investments? From whom? For how much?

Not yet, we are working on what will be our first round pre-series A for mid 2014.

We have had conversations with several VC’s and Private Equity funds and some non-profit organizations that now have “entrepreneur programs” who have expressed interest in our model. 

 

What is your biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge is to be able to understand the change in ART appreciation and keep the pace with what consumers are willing to accept and move to.

Another big challenge is that our site functionality has to be unique and working with developers in the US tends to be too expensive, and working with developers outside our country tends to pose a challenge when you need unique features that have to be built.   You need to understand what you are building and how to express that vision especially with developers  outside of the USA.  

logo1

 

What advice would you provide to other emerging Latino tech entrepreneurs?

Listen to the end user, the consumer, not just your friends and family.

There is no easy way!  Being an entrepreneur requires a lot of sacrifices that you do without even thinking about it.

Network! Social Media!  Use social media to learn and talk to your consumers.

If you can close your eyes and see it, you can do it.

Have fun while doing all the heavy work.

 

You can find her online store via the link attached!

http://www.wearthatart.com